These past few weeks we seem to have faced one crises after another as a family.
One storm after another storm.
As parents we are learning to dance during the storms and as children of God we are learning to dance through the storms.
A mom phoned me the other day to share with me something that her child had done – she needed prayer and just to be able to talk to someone who would not judge her or her child and believe me I am the right person for that! I used to be extremely judgmental of others and then God gave me children – every time I criticised a parent for their child’s behaviour, one of my children would do something far worse. As parents we make many mistakes but one of the most important things we need to learn about parenting is how to forgive ourselves for the mistakes we have made and, if we have raised them correctly, not to feel responsible for the way our children behave. There comes a time when they have to face the consequences of their own actions/choices. We cannot be effective parents if we are constantly living under a sense of condemnation because of the mistakes we have made or if we are blaming ourselves for their actions. We need to confess those mistakes to God, to someone we trust and then we need to move on.
The mom who phoned said the following “I am totally gobsmacked that my child would behave in such a destructive manner. I am struggling to understand…”
I thought the word ‘gobsmacked’ summed up how I often feel about parenting. I am sometimes gobsmacked at their negative behaviour but I am more often than not gobsmacked at how amazing they are despite having me as a parent!
I know that nothing surprises God (“Known to God are all his works from the beginning of the world” Acts 15:18) but I am sure He still sometimes just shakes His head at my negative behaviour and ungratefulness. As I have reflected on the past few weeks I have been reminded about the negative ways I sometimes behave towards God and an overwhelming sense of gratitude fills my being that God does not react to me the way I sometimes react to my children.
I am the type of person who tends to overreact to my children’s unpleasant behaviour. I tend to get really upset, shout and go on and on and on and on and on and on. I am still working hard on the “take a deep breath and respond instead of reacting!” advice I was once given.
As the years go past I am also very aware that our children go through various ‘stages’ and that, as long as we are vigilant, these stages will pass. I have found myself repeating this phrase a lot lately “this too shall pass!”
The other thing that we need to remember as parents is that our children’s negative behaviour/habits do not define who they are and we should not allow those traits to cancel out the overwhelming good in our children.
Our children are far more than their present behaviour.
As I recognise my own bad behaviour towards God and as I start to forgive myself I find it so much easier to forgive my children and to move on. I find that even in the midst of the storm, once my reaction is over, I am able to dance to the music of the thunder and in the light of the lightning and that when I firmly place my hand in God’s hands I am able to dance through the storms in the sure knowledge that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose”
I can dance in the storm because I know that ultimately none of this will matter when my children and I are safely home with Him one day!